Small Business Administration

by kmurray, Community Moderator
According to the U.S. Census 2007 Survey of Business Owners women owned 7.8 million businesses, representing almost 30 percent of all companies in the country. It's also worth mentioning that the growth of women-owned firms has outpaced the growth of other types, having increased by just about 44 percent between 1997 and 2007.

So, what can you do to join the ranks of these successful women business owners? Are you exploring your options for capital? If you're looking for help to finance your business venture, check out these resources.

SBA Loan Programs and Online Loan Search Tool

Although no government loan programs exist exclusively for for women business owners, the SBA is one of the largest loan guarantors in the country and offers a variety of loan programs to small businesses.

Keep in mind that the SBA doesn't lend the money directly; it provides a guarantee to banks and lenders for the money they lend to small businesses owners. This protects the lenders' interests by promising to pay a portion (the percentage varies by the type of loan) if the business owner defaults on the loan, so the lender is more likely to take the risk if it wouldn't have without the guarantee.

Did you know? SBA loans are three to five times more likely to go to women than non-SBA loans. SBA's leading loan programs include 7(a) and 504, but women-owned businesses often need small-scale financing, so SBA microloans are another option to consider. In fiscal year 2011, a little more than half of all microloans went to businesses owned in whole, or in the majority, by women.

Online Resources from SBA.gov

With Business USA's financing search tool, you can find out about loan programs based on your business profile and needs. The Loans and Grants section of SBA.gov is also great to explore to learn more about the loans and grants that may be available to you.

You can also check out the online courses, videos and chat sessions available in SBA's Learning Center that are tailored to helping small business owners understand financial options, loans, processes, etc.

Women's Business Centers

Overseen by SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership, Women's Business Centers (WBCs) can guide women through the process of finding and applying for an SBA loan. They also offer regular training seminars on financing topics. You'll find that some WBCs also provide access to alternative capital financing programs. And with 110 offices across the country, you're bound to find one nearby. WBCs are a great resource if you're looking for other types of counseling and training as well, so check out a location near you to get the help you need to start or grow your business.

Did you know? SBA data has shown that businesses that receive assistance from WBCs have significantly better survival rates than those that don't receive similar support.

Other Financing Options

Have you considered options like crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lending? These avenues for funding allow you to make your business case to others – usually online – with the hope that someone will make an investment. Given the tough times entrepreneurs are also facing with the current economic climate, methods like crowdfunding have become a popular and alternative method of raising finance for a business.

Additional Resources

SBA Local Offices: Another in-community go-to resource for business counseling, training and loan information. These offices oversee the delivery of SBA's programs, including loans, nationwide. You can also locate your office on Twitter and Facebook here.
Women-Owned Businesses: Learn about the wide range of federal programs available to help women owned small businesses start up, grow and succeed.
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO): A membership organization that provides resources and networking opportunities for women in business.
National Women's Business Council: Advisory panel to the President and Congress on economic issues important to women business owners.